According to studies by Pew Research and others, the number of people in the US claiming to be Christian has been on the decline for the past fifty years. The recent pandemic seems to have been the latest accelerant for the decline in church attendance and people leaving the faith.
Many say this is driven by younger generations although the issue goes across all age groups. Terms like “deconstructing your faith” and “re-evaluating my beliefs” have become more common. Some believe these are simply ways to choose easier or more culturally accepted beliefs but that can be an oversimplification of a much bigger issue. Others believe that young people are simply becoming more progressive, resetting their moral compass, or more enlightened about their faith by no longer calling themselves Christians.
In a recent study, the hashtag “#exchristian” had 696.7 million cumulative views on TikTok. The hashtag “#exvangelical” was viewed 1.1 billion times on TikTok. A Christian author recently went about trying to uncover why people were leaving Christianity. He asked questions about what initiated the change in thoughts or beliefs and what was the “final straw”.
The two most popular reasons for considering leaving were views on LGBTQ issues and the behavior or other believers. Of course, there were many others answers but more than one third fell into these two reasons. When asked about the thing that pushed them to finally make the decision, the top four answers were LGBTQ, behavior of believers, politics in the church, and the faithfulness of leaders.
Interestingly, when asked what they miss most the answers focused on the absence of relationships and a lack of community with others like-minded. The answers suggest the love many of them did not feel is also what they miss most about being Christian or in church. The survey numbers may say people are leaving Christianity but the desires of the heart they seek are only met in a meaningful way through trusting Jesus and being in healthy Christian community. May we each lean into those that are hurting and considering a “name change” to help remind them of the one true source of hope.